Governor Pat Quinn today continued his commitment to protecting Illinois seniors by signing several new laws to protect senior citizens in Illinois. The new laws will promote safety, increase oversight and accountability for caregivers and help authorities identify and respond to reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
"Our seniors deserve our respect and protection against those who would take advantage of them," Governor Quinn said. "Safeguarding seniors from exploitation and abuse will make our state stronger."
House Bill 5653, sponsored by Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Lockport) and Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields), allows a prosecutor to ask a court to freeze a defendant's assets if he or she is charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person. This is an initiative of AARP Illinois, which has advocated for greater protection against elderly financial exploitation committed by family and non-family members. This new law will help prevent defendants from spending stolen money or using stolen money to mount an expensive legal defense that would make it more difficult for victims to collect proper restitution. The legislation passed the General Assembly unanimously and goes into effect Jan. 1.
House Bill 5266, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst) and Sen. John Millner (R-Carol Stream), allows law enforcement and fire departments access to reports of elder abuse, neglect, financial exploitation or self-neglect compiled by senior service providers. Under current law, law enforcement cannot access this information without a specific instance of abuse or suspected abuse that has been reported to them. Senior services providers will now be able to proactively work with law enforcement in advance of visits like well-being checks or emergency calls, to inform them of circumstances that suggest evidence of elder crime or neglect. The legislation passed the General Assembly unanimously and goes into effect Jan. 1.
House Bill 3986, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) and Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Chicago), allows the Illinois Department on Aging to receive reports of elder abuse or neglect from senior service providers via the internet. This legislation will make it easier for the state and law enforcement to receive and act on reports of elder abuse and neglect. The same laws governing the use of confidential information will still apply to online reporting. The new takes effect immediately.
House Bill 5098, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Costello, II (D-Sparta) and Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton), further expands the state's efforts to recognize and respond to crimes against the elderly by requiring probation officers' training to include courses on how to recognize and appropriately respond to crimes against the elderly. The law is effective Jan. 1.
House Bill 5009, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Verschoore (D-Rock Island) and Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-Moline), will help nursing home patients found outside of their facility to be safely assisted and returned to their residence. This legislation requires nursing home residents' identification wristlets to include their facility's telephone number. The law is effective immediately.
Senate Bill 3204, sponsored by Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) and Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Lockport), changes the Illinois Power of Attorney Act by specifying that certain financial agreements and contracts do not interfere with a person's primary power of attorney. This bill is an initiative of the Corporate Fiduciaries Association of Illinois to address the difficulties banks, attorneys and trust officers frequently encounter when handling multiple powers of attorney. A previous version of this legislation was vetoed by Governor Quinn because it did not contain enough protections for the elderly. This alternative legislation was negotiated by AARP Illinois, the Department on Aging, the Corporate Fiduciaries Association of Illinois, the Illinois Bankers Association and the Illinois Credit Union League. It takes effect immediately.
Senate Bill 3690, sponsored by Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) and Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), requires the state budget to take into account the costs of achieving the goals of Illinois' long-term care rebalancing initiative by providing new definitions of populations that need varying levels of care. The legislation is an initiative of the Health Care Council of Illinois and will provide guidance to agencies under the governor charged with providing long-term care to vulnerable demographics including frail older adults. The law passed the General Assembly unanimously and takes effect immediately.
Senate Bill 680, sponsored by Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) and Rep. Esther Golar (D-Chicago), will further protect the elderly and other vulnerable populations by creating additional requirements for safe lifting of residents with limited mobility in nursing homes and healthcare facilities. The law will require the training of nurses and other care providers on safe lifting techniques and equipment that will reduce risk for fragile residents and give them more input on how they are lifted. The law passed the General Assembly unanimously and takes effect Jan. 1.
Senate Bill 3499, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston) and Rep. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), reduces litigation costs for the Department of Public Health and nursing care facilities by clarifying the conditions under which they can waive their right to contest state fines. The law provides that any facility can only waive the right to contest the state's penalty by paying a settlement amount of 65% of the fine within 10 days of receiving the penalty notice. This legislation is an initiative of the Healthcare Council of Illinois (HCCI), which sought to streamline the process by which state fines against nursing homes may be offset by the federal fines also levied against violators. The law is effective immediately.
Senate Bill 3420, sponsored by Sen. Mike Jacobs (East Moline) and Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), allows the owners of nursing homes to serve as representatives of residents to whom they are related. Current law allows other employees of nursing homes who are related to residents this same ability. The law is effective immediately.
House Bill 5134, sponsored by Rep. Michael Unes (R-East Peoria) and Sen. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria), amends the Nursing Home Care Act to formalize the informal dispute process between the Department of Public Health and nursing care facilities that occurs during state licensing and review. The law passed the General Assembly unanimously and takes effect immediately.
Senate Bill 3171, sponsored by Sen. John Sullivan (D-Quincy) and Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington), brings Illinois law into compliance with federal law regarding the release of health records of the deceased. The new legislation allows the executor of the estate of a deceased person who holds their power of attorney to receive their medical records or designate another to receive them. If an executor does not exist and no one holds power of attorney over an estate, the legislation allows medical records to be released to a personal representative of the deceased who meets certain conditions under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This law was passed by the General Assembly unanimously in consultation with the federal Department of Health and Human Services and the Illinois State Bar Association. It takes effect immediately.